Naperville Heritage Society looking for new leader
By Susan Frick Carlman firstname.lastname@example.org February 19, 2013 8:25PM
Museum Educator Justin Stech greets students from Lincoln School in Palatine for a blacksmith demontration on Thursday, February 14, 2013. The Heritage Society, which runs Naper Settlement, is searching for a new director. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:08AM
Wanted: leader with established community roots seeking long-term relationship with local antiquity.
For more than three decades, Peggy Frank fit that job description perfectly. Her departure from the helm of the Naperville Heritage Society left some big shoes to fill — and they aren’t all the high-button sort.
As overseer of Naper Settlement, the society is instrumental in advocating for the historic structures and legacies that comprise the community’s shared past. Mike Krol, chairman of the Heritage Society board, said in a news release that the person who succeeds Frank will be chosen carefully “to celebrate our region’s rich history and enhance Naper Settlement’s bright future.”
A search committee has begun working to find someone who fits the position well enough to become only the second president and CEO in the organization’s 44-year history.
Frank, who retired last month at age 60, recalls early days when she could just as easily be found donning a period costume to serve as a docent in the living-history museum as delivering a speech to Naperville civic organizations or commandeering the business end of a snow shovel.
“When I started out I was young, and it was very hands-on,” she said.
While the curves and points of interest may be unfamiliar, the road ahead of the organization will likely be just as interesting as the one in her rearview mirror.
“The changes were dramatic,” Frank said. “In the 33-year time span that I’ve had an association with the organization, we evolved from a small, grassroots, volunteer-based organization to a nationally recognized, professionally run, award-winning advocate for historic preservation in the western suburbs.”
She was pleased to be part of the Settlement’s establishment in a community that was experiencing a simultaneous growth boom. As the facility grew, so did the job.
“I was fortunate enough to be able to assemble a wonderful, wonderful staff,” she said. “And some delegation began to come into play.”
A flair for utilizing human resources will be one of the skill sets sought in the person who next sits at Frank’s old desk.
“Of course, every organization says it’s a unique search, but we truly feel that way,” said Steve Grosskopf, chairman of the search committee, who sees a unique collaboration between the museum’s ties to the past and its confluence with the future. “It’s going to take a pretty dynamic leader to keep what we’ve got, all the things we’ve got going on, but also to take us to the next step.”
That will include some focus on fundraising for a capital campaign, and for old-fashioned marketing efforts as well.
“We definitely want to expand our local and regional appeal ... we’re very good at what we do, but we’d like to be better known regionally and nationally,” Grosskopf said.
As many other nonprofits are doing, the society will be tapping partnerships to help stretch its funds as far as possible. One of the largest planned undertakings will be Scott’s Block, a development long envisioned for the green space in the center of the Settlement that will include a collection of small businesses offering goods and services consistent with the historic village, such as a bike shop, along with a venue suitable for wedding receptions and other large gatherings.
The two organizations also are ready to embrace the innovations that roll in as the future arrives en route to the past as it is replicated at the Settlement. Grosskopf said electronic communication will grow from where it already has begun within the organization and its patrons. It has already been spotted during the society’s summertime Naper Nights events.
“We had people who were Tweeting, mentioning some of the activities they had going right then,” he said. “I don’t think you have too many museum visitors who do that.”
Along with a level of comfort with the role of modern life’s benefits in historic contexts, the next leader also will need to be personably agile. The job posting on the settlement’s website said the position requires someone with “strong interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence and dynamic collegial approaches.”
Those qualities came in handy for Frank when she was doing the job. She also found open-mindedness a helpful trait, in addition to the ability to engage comfortably in public speaking and convey with passion the settlement’s mission and its place in the community.
“I really feel interpersonal skills came into play a great deal, both working with the volunteer corps and with the staff and the community at large,” she said.
While the time frame for hiring the next president is not rigid, Grosskopf said the committee envisions sometime around the May 1 start of the organizations’ new fiscal year.
“We’d like to have the new person in place by June,” he said.
Information about the position can be found at www.napersettlement.com/jobs.aspx.